Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Positive Effects of Blogging

I received an email notification yesterday morning about a new post on Lisa Bejarano's blog.  It's an excellent post that talks about Lisa's internal thought process when deciding how to lead a lesson on simplifying complex fractions. 

A couple of hours later, I see Dan Meyer tweet he commented on Lisa's post on his blog.  I enjoyed Dan's analysis for a couple of reasons.  He offers the thought that it is impossible to practice the process that Lisa takes with her lesson plan.  I tend to agree with that opinion.  Then, I what I really enjoyed was the nugget he left behind in his "BTW" section.

He links an article called "The Positive Effects of Blogging on Teachers".  I hadn't seen this article before and it really hit home with me.  Many of the items discussed relate directly to me and my professional growth and journey. 

Thank you Lisa and Dan for helping me along my way!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Desmos Transformation Golf + What My Assessment Looked Like

My geometry classes just recently completed our unit on transformations.  I was super excited to be teaching transformations this year because a few weeks ago Desmos released one of their coolest activities to date: Transformation Golf: Rigid Motion.  If you haven't checked out this activity, stop reading this post and go take a peek.

I wrestled with figuring out the best time to do this activity with students.  Should I launch the unit with it?  Do I do the activity after the unit as a performance task?  When does this best fit?

I decided to do the activity as a review for the test.  My intent was to help students solidify their understanding as well as to allow students to see that there is more than one composition of transformations that will yield the same result.

So I had students complete the activity in class.  I used quite a bit of teacher pacing and paused students often to discuss some of their thinking during the activity.  It's such a fun day to lead.  Students found a lot of pleasure finding their own ways to complete the tasks.  Take a look at the various ways students did challenge #8.

To wrap up the lesson, I had students complete an exit ticket to summarize their thoughts about the activity.  Here are a few quotes from students:
"It was fun and I liked how we got to make different things different ways."
"It made me think in different ways than I normally would."
"I like how it made me think outside of the box and creatively."
"I liked that it was a little bit of a challenge."

As part of the unit test, I wanted to give students some problems that were similar to the Transformation Golf activity.  I wanted students to have the opportunity to be creative and get the correct solution in more than one way.  At the same time, I wanted the problems to be a bit challenging and I wanted to assess the students' understanding of transformations on the coordinate plane.

So I created six different problems that consisted of a pre-image figure and its image on a coordinate plane.  (A link to the test problems is here.)  Students were required to provide the list of steps needed to map the pre-image onto the image.  The level of precision expected was this: for translations, I needed the translation rule.  For reflections, I needed the equation of the line of reflection.  For rotations, I needed the center and degree of rotation.  Counterclockwise rotations were the default; students could rotate clockwise if they desired, as long as they noted the direction.

I was really stressing out about grading these problems because I knew there were many correct answers.  I wouldn't be able to have one answer as a key; I would need to check each problem with a fine-toothed comb.  With over 80 geometry students, I was worried about how long this task would take me.

Here is a sample of some the student responses.  All of these solutions are for the same problem.

As it turns out, I found great joy in grading these problems.  Yes, it took a bit of time...more time than it would have had I given my students a multiple choice assessment.  But to see the creativity, thinking, and effort that students demonstrated was well worth my time.

I won't lie and say that all students did awesome work on this assessment.  A common error was not being specific about the location of the center of rotation.  [Often times the students intended the center to be the origin, but didn't specify.  These errors led to a good conversation about precision.] 

A few students who struggled mentioned that this assessment was tougher than the Desmos activity for two reasons.  First, checking their work on the assessment was a bit tougher than checking on Desmos.  The Desmos activity provides immediate feedback when a student performs a transformation.  Second, the transformations on Desmos did not require use of coordinates, equations of lines, etc.  I have a handful of students who still struggle with writing the equation of a line.  They are able to draw / sketch the line of reflection when given a pre-image & image, but they are not able to write the equation of that line very well.  These students were able to complete the Desmos activity without too much problem but struggled to complete this assessment correctly.

So, team at Desmos, here is my request.  I LOVE the Transformation Golf activity.  It made teaching transformations incredible enjoyable this year.  I would love to see a "Transformation Golf: Round 2" activity that includes the x- and y-axes on the grid and that requires students to provide translation rules, equations of lines of reflections, and coordinates of centers of rotation in order to perform the transformations.  My thought would be to have students start with the existing activity in order to learn some of the general transformation tools, and then send to the "Round 2" activity that ramps up the precision.  Thanks in advanced!  ;-)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"When Will I Ever Use This?"

In Geometry class last week, I shared a TED ED video with students titled "Pixar: The Math Behind the Movies".  In the video, Pixar Research Lead Tony DeRose talks to a room full of students about some of the mathematics happening behind the scenes at Pixar.

One piece of the mathematics Tony talks about is something Pixar created in 1997 called "subdivision".  Without giving away too much of the video, under the surface "subdividing" uses a bit of coordinate geometry and the concept of midpoints.  On the surface, "subdividing" helps Pixar smooth the edges of their digital characters and makes the characters look a lot more life-like.

What I found interesting that is that this concept of "subdividing" was invented until 1997.  I graduated HS in 1998, which means my high school geometry instruction dates back to somewhere between 1995-97.  If I would have asked my high school math teacher at the time "When will I ever need to find the midpoint of a line segment?", he would not have been able to mention the concept of subdivision as an application for finding midpoints.

Likewise, it's safe to say that in five years, by the time my students are halfway done their undergraduate degrees, there will be math being used in the world that hasn't yet been invented.  Whether it be an advanced statistical metric used to inform sports teams, some fancy new device that makes a iPhone X seem like an antique, or a parallel to Pixar's "subdivision", new math is being discovered and applied each year.

As math teachers, it's not a bad idea to have a list of occupations and examples that highlight some of the usefulness and application of mathematics.  However, math teachers should also help students realize that we don't fully know how certain mathematical topics will be used in the future.

The video is under 8 minutes long; I invite you to watch it.  It's really quite good.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Desmos Marbleslides Challenge Set

This year, I'm trying something new with my students.  The idea came from a Desmos Fellow name Sean Sweeney.  His blog post does a great job explaining how this works; I invite you to read about his experiences with what he calls his Marbleslides Challenge Set.

Two weeks ago, my geometry classes had just finished our unit on parallel and perpendicular lines.  As part of that unit, I had students do the Desmos Marbleslides: Lines activity.  Students loved the activity and asked for more Marbleslides.  In response, I unleashed the challenge set to my students.  [At least the first three challenges.]

Each week I am unlocking one more challenge inside the activity.  This past week was an especially cool challenge, with the screen almost like a Plinko board.  I've had a number students find solutions and experiences the "Success!" found at the end of the Desmos rainbow.  And as a teacher, you know you're winning when students are begging for the next challenge to be unlocked.

I challenge you to read Sean's post and try the Desmos Marbleslides challenge out in your school.  Happy 'Slidin'!

Monday, October 23, 2017

NCTM Conference @ Orlando Reflection

I’m on my way back home from the NCTM Regional Conference in Orlando.  I had an awesome four days in Florida.  My brain feels somewhere between the consistency of oatmeal and Jello.  I need to get my thoughts recorded before I return home to four children and the responsibilities of real life.  [Update: I didn’t get the full post written before I returned home; the movies on the airplane stole my attention.]

I had initially planned on doing a running diary-like blog post of my experiences at the conference, but soon realized that there is too much info to consume to be continually writing and reflecting.  Instead, I give you my five biggest takeaways from my conference experience.

1.         Desmos is still a mystery to too many classroom teachers.

            Okay, not all of Desmos.  But the teacher activities found at  In the first session I attended on Thursday, Matt Vaudrey (The Classroom Chef) had participants pair up with a partner and play Polygraph.  I rotated around to four different people and asked each of them if they had heard of Desmos before.  Three of out four responded along the lines of “Yeah, my students and I use the calculator quite often.”  When I asked them about every using Polygraph before, all three responded “No” and had never been to the Desmos teacher site.  The fourth person had never used Desmos at all before.
            Overall, I counted seven sessions (out of about 260) that included Desmos in the title or the description.  Other session may have absolutely used Desmos as part of their presentations and simply didn’t include “Desmos” in the description.  Not all of the seven sessions necessarily used the Desmos teacher site.  I’m by no means advocating for Desmos to take over the conference.  However, I continue to be floored at how many teachers have no idea that the Desmos teacher site exists.
            When talking to some of my Desmos Fellow / MTBoS colleagues, I mentioned my surprise at the lack of knowledge about the teacher site.  One conjecture we made is that if you visit there is a link to the teacher site, but the link doesn’t really “stick out”.  We felt as though flashing neon lights might help.  Another conjecture is that until textbook companies direct teachers to go to the teacher site, it will never reach all who really need to see it.  I’m curious about something… textbook companies like Pearson and CPM are now starting to embed Desmos activities into their curriculum.  I’m wondering if teachers using those resources are prompted to “Go to, create a class code, etc” or if they simply are able to run the activity via a link found in their curriculum’s resources.
            Teachers need to be told about the Desmos teacher site and need to be guided through setting up their account, searching for & bookmarking activities, creating a class code, and using the teacher dashboard.  There is also a strong need for a session where the Activity Builder is demonstrated, and the Activity Builder Code is investigated.  Which brings me to…

2.         I feel really motivated to share with other teachers by speaking at conferences.

            One NCTM regional conference next fall is in Kansas City, which is less than 6 hours away from Brookings via car.  The deadline for proposals to speak is December 2nd.  I’m going to apply to speak and I’m leaning toward my proposal being about the Desmos teacher site.
            This week, I prepared a number of proposals for sessions at the SDCTM conference in February.  My colleague & fellow Desmos Fellow Jarrod and I are also going to submit a proposal for an in-depth session at the TIE conference in April.  I’m also happy to be presenting a full day session on Desmos at the SDCTM Summer Symposium in July.
            Also this week, I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to speak on ideas and things happening in my classroom that are not connected to Desmos.  Resources such as Which One Doesn’t Belong?, Estimation 180, 3 ACT tasks, My Favorite No, and Padlet had their fingerprints in many sessions.  Manipulatives such as Algebra Tiles, Patty Paper, and GeoBoards were demonstrated as tools that help student develop conceptual understanding.  I regularly use all of these things in my classroom.  One of the session proposals I prepared for the SDCTM conference demonstrates a few of these resources.

3.         I have fresh ideas about how to improve what I’m doing in my classroom.

            Continual improvement is something I like to think I strive for.  I gained a lot of new ideas this week on things I can do to improve my craft.  A couple of ideas I’m hoping to implement soon are warm-up routines, tweaking my WODB a bit to make students think about a reason each one doesn’t belong, and using GIFs embedded into Desmos to help students visualize the intended mathematics (thanks, Jedidiah!).  Also, I was reminded that I need to take a long look at Mathalicious and Quizlet Live; both resources seem to have some pretty strong supplementary resources.

4.         TI and I are on a break.
            This takeaway needs its own blog post.  Coming soon…

5.         The online math community is powerful.
            I’m going to have to say that networking & collaborating was one of the highlights of my week.  It began before the conference even started while I was walking to the Wednesday keynote session.  I bumped into Sam Shah on my walk to the conference center.  He and I met this summer in San Francisco at the Desmos Fellows weekend.  He introduced me to two of his colleagues who were walking with him.
            Then in the keynote session, I happen to sit next to Tracy Johnston Zager.  Her and I have a number of short conversations as part of the interactive session.  Directly in front of us are Desmos Fellows Heather Kohn and Lisa Bejarano.  Heather had asked Lisa and I to present on the Global Math Department’s webinar back on September 19th.  (Our session was titled “What’s New at Desmos?” and yes, Dan Meyer presented with us.  Due to Dan’s loyal followers, there were over 500 people trying to view the webinar.  We crashed the host server & were unable to effectively show what was new at Desmos.)  Heather and Lisa introduced me to #MTBoS faithful Hedge and Joel Bezaire.  Michael Fenton was one of the keynote speakers and I spoke with him briefly after his presentation. 
            The next two days, I run into Desmos Fellows Carl Oliver and Jedidiah Butler.  I chatted with Christopher Danielson about this “Math on a Stick” at the Minnesota State Fair.  I sat next to Kyle Pearce in a couple of different sessions.  I met Justin Aion and David Wees.  I caught up with David Barnes and Patrick Vannebush, both of who I met at NCTM Minneapolis back in 2015.  The list goes on…
Holding down the fort at the #MTBoS booth.

I’d strongly recommend attending an NCTM if you have the resources to do so.  SO.  MUCH.  COLLABORATION.  I feel extremely fortunate to be able to attend.  I want to say “Thank You” once again to Daktronics for supporting SDCTM and the SD Math Teacher of the YearAward.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be presenting next fall in Kansas City.  Time to get working on the speaker proposal!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Math in the Real World: Student Created Memes

One of my overarching goals for my geometry classes is for students to realize we can find geometry nearly everywhere we look in our everyday lives.  Yes, most of my students can identify the corners of their walls as right angles, they understand the ceiling and floor represent planes, and they are cool with the idea that the rails on train tracks are parallel.  But what I want for students is for them to really see the geometry all around us and for them to begin to see things geometrically even when they're not trying to.

To help develop this habit of mind, I assign students the challenge of creating a meme.  Students must take a picture (searching in Google is not allowed) of something they see in their lives that relates to the geometry concepts we have learned about.  I give students a quick intro to the website and set them free.  Students submit their memes on our class Padlet and are able to see the work of their classmates.

I plan to do this same assignment once a quarter.  Here are a few of my favorites from the first quarter.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Favorite Organization Tip

Okay, so I'm very tardy with this submission for the #MTBoS Sunday Funday Blogging Challenge.  Life is busy this time of year; I'll chalk my tardiness up to that.  But I do want to share a tip that I implemented last year that has really helped me stay on top of organization.

In the front of my classroom, underneath a skinny table, sit 5 crates with hanging file folders in them.  I have one crate for each of my five classes.  Each student has one hanging file folder.  I tell students that the folder is a one-way mailbox.  Anything that I need to give to them, I will put in their folder.  It is the students' job to "check their mailbox" and take out anything that is in there.  I make it very clear to students that the folders are not an extension of their locker and should be empty a majority of the time.

How have the crates helped my organization and time management?

Handing back papers can now be done outside of class time.
I no longer spend precious class time handing back papers.  Whenever I finish grading tests, quizzes, etc., I simply take the papers and drop them into each student's folder.  When students come to class, I will pull that period's crate off the floor, set it on the table, and when students enter the room between periods they grab their papers.  Yes, the occasion student walks into class right as the bell rings, but s/he can quickly check their folder and get to where they need to be without too much time being wasted.

Absent student work.
I used to be terrible at keeping track of materials for absent students.  Now, if a students is absent for class, I take a copy of any materials handed out in class and put them in their folder.  Students quickly learn the expectation of checking their folders when they return from an absence.  Directions for this process can be written in substitute teachers plans as well.

The crates sit on the floor at the front of my room.

Each period, I pull the appropriate crate up and place it on the desk.
Students know their folder should always be cleaned out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Desmos Fellowship 2017 Reflection

I’m writing this blog post on my flight home from San Francisco.  I figure I’d better transition my thoughts into words before I return home to the responsibilities of being a father of four. 
The Desmos Fellows weekend was awesome.  It was everything I had imagined plus 120% more.  Here are some highlights, in no particular order…

Star Shock – Team Desmos
When I first arrived at the Desmos Headquarters on Friday afternoon, who other than Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) was there greeting us at the door.  I’ve met Dan before on two separate occasions, but this one felt a bit different.  Inside the HQ, I cross paths with Shelley Carranza (@stcarranza).  I introduce myself to Michael Fenton (@mjfenton).  Not long after, Eli Luberoff (@eluberoff) enters the room. 

As introductions begin, I realize that I’m sitting in the chair that Desmos programmer Denis Lantsman (@dlants) typically sits in.  Jenny Wales (@jenny_wales), Cori McElwain (@CoriMcElwain), and Zack Ellis (@overZellis) are sitting nearby.  Many of the people who are responsible for creating activities I use in my classroom are all here.

As the weekend continued, I was able to interact a lot with the team from Desmos.  During lunch on Saturday, Michael and I had a conversation about our children.  I picked Dan’s brain about his thoughts on transitioning some 3-ACT tasks into Activity Builder.  I asked Eli if he is planning on billing SDCTM for his travel to South Dakota this past February.  I listened to Jenny talk about how neat New Orleans is.  All of these conversations helped the shock wear off a bit.

Michael Fenton, Jarrod, and I

Star Shock – The Fellowship
Prior to arriving, there was a lot of activity on Twitter and on the Desmos Slack from members of the Fellowship.  Some of the Fellows I had been following on Twitter for years.  I have read their blogs and borrowed their ideas and favorite lessons.  I felt like I knew a little bit about some of the Fellows but in a very impersonal way.

The personalization of those connections began even before I set foot in California.  In route to San Francisco, I had a stop in Denver.  While there, I met Jon Orr (@MrOrr_geek) and Angela Reilly Harden (@angelarh).  In the weeks leading up to the Fellows weekend, I had worked with Jon on an Activity Builder centered on algebra and “Two Truths and a Lie”.  Jon and Angela joined Jarrod (my Brookings colleague and fellow Fellow) and I and the four of us exchanged stories as we found our way to our hotel.

As I drifted around the room at Desmos HQ, I found myself shaking hands with a number of familiar names from Twitter and MTBoS.  I recognized some names from activities found in Desmos.  I started to wonder how I was selected to be a part of such a talented group of people.

Jon Orr and I

Professional Development
A big highlight of mine was being able to listen to the PD sessions put on by the Desmos team. 

Saturday morning, Michael gave a presentation about the Principles for Activity Building.  He had us work through Point Collector as a student and then analyze which design principles were being used during the activity.  It was great to do a deep dive into the 13 design principles.

Jenny and Shelley presented on the Desmos design process.  I learned a really cool strategy for creating activities that uses 8-squares and sticky notes.

Eli spoke to the group about the history and evolution of Desmos.  It was awesome to see some of the artifacts Eli was able to access and inspiring to hear about the future of Desmos.

Scott Miller (@smiller229) and Jenn Vadnais (@rilesblue) presented a session on strong presentation moves when speaking about Desmos.  I really enjoyed learning ways that I can improve my skill level as a presenter.

Dan led a two hour session focused on working with teachers and how to become a Desmos Certified presenter.  I really enjoyed learning about the types of things the team at Desmos wants us to be focusing on while giving presentations.  One big takeaway from Dan’s session was that technology allows teachers and students to co-construct the experience.  I hope to become a Desmos Certified presenter soon.

Michael's Presentation

Eli speaking about the history of Desmos

New Tools
Dan also led a session that introduced the Fellows to a new tool that we have access to inside of Activity Builder called Computation Layer (CL).  CL grants access into more of the guts of Activity Builder and allows creators to do a number of things that previously couldn’t have been done.  With my limited computer programming experience, I understand about 3.14% of what I have access to in CL.  During our work sessions, I learned a lot about CL thanks largely to Paul Jorgens (@pejorgens) and Angela.  I plan to continue to learn more about programming and using CL.

I’m very excited to see what some of the brightest Fellows can create for us to use these next few months.

Dan showing us CL.

Angela, Paul, and I

The City
This was my first time ever in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Jarrod and I enjoyed exploring the city.  Items we checked off our bucket list include seeing Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, riding a Cable Car, and eating at House of Prime Rib.  The weather was beautiful and the food was excellent.
Golden Gate @ Sunset
Hangin' on the Cable Car
Totally Impressed!

I’m excited to be part of this awesome group of people.  They re-kindled my fire to improve my practice, be a leader, and help change how student experience mathematics.

Desmos HQ

I love the fact that there is every issue of Mathematics Teacher in house.

Desmos Fellowship 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Desmos Fellowship Preview

Quick tangent: We are over halfway through June.  Where has the summer gone?

The second cohort of Desmos Fellows was recently announced.  I'm honored and excited to be a part of it.  When the first cohort was selected, I had to decline an invitation to join due to the birth of my child.  Fortunately, I was grandfathered into the second cohort and here we are!

I'm looking forward to learning from this Fellowship and being a part of something that is making major changes in the field of mathematics education.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Best of Luck, Mr. Sage!

This past semester, I had the opportunity to have Brendan Sage (@brendan_sage) be my student teacher.  As I reflect on our time together, it's safe to say that we both learned a lot from each other.  One thing I learned from Brendan is that it's not difficult to make the diagrams and pictures we use in class look a lot more professional.  He shared with me a number of useful websites and resources that I will continue to use to find new, challenging material.  Lastly, he found a number of silly, corny math jokes to show students and they absolutely loved them.  

Mr. Sage will take over his own classroom in the fall.  I'm confident that he will do great and his students will be lucky to have him as their teacher.

Twin Day 2017
Is there any resemblance to this movie poster?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

PAEMST Application

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that talked about GRIT.  In the post, I mentioned that my PAEMST application deadline was rapidly approaching and I had a lot of work to do.  I'm happy to say that I completed the application with a few hours to spare.  It pains me to realize how much of a deadline person I am.  I most always get done what needs to get done; however, I have an A+ in Procrastination 101.

A few brief thoughts that are stewing in my brain due to the application...
First of all, completing that application is a challenge.  It really made me think about things that I am doing in my classroom, and why I do those things.  It also makes me think about how I can improve moving forward.

This year, our district implemented Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and assigned each staff member to a PLC group.  We were provided 4 driving questions to lead our PLC focus and discussion.
1.  What do we want our students to learn?
2.  How will we know that they are learning?
3.  How will we respond when they don’t learn?
4.  How will we respond when they already know it?

I really like these questions.  I want to be able to answer these questions without hesitation and I want to be proud of my answers.  Right now, I can't say that I'm proud of my answers for each of these questions.  My PAEMST application helped me realize this.

My initial response to question 3 is the one I'm least proud of.  "How will we respond when they don't learn?"  What a great question.

In my classes right now, I have two or three students who are not learning what I expect them to.  I know this because they are currently in danger of failing the semester.   Each of the students' situations is unique and I don't want to dive into those details.  I will say that my answer to question 3 is not very strong right now.  My general response is "The students need to come in and get extra help."  The problem is that the students are not doing so, and I've done nothing beyond that.

I'm excited to see where the PLC discussion groups will lead us.

I may not receive the PAEMST award with the application I recently submitted.  Time will tell.  But one thing is certain -- I've done a lot of reflecting due to completing it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 TIE Conference

The 2017 TIE Conference (held in Rapid City, SD) is right around the corner.  If you happen to attend, here's a little insight into a couple of sessions that I'll be co-presenting on.

Sunday, April 23

Sharon Rendon (@srendon2), Jarrod Huntimer (@BHSGeometry), and I will be hosting an in-depth session focused on Desmos.  During the four-hour session, participants will get a deep look at as well as the Activity Builder features.

Monday, April 24

Jarrod and I will also be hosting a breakout session on Desmos.  We plan to give participants a brief overview of the site and the Activity Builder features.  We do plan to customize the presentation based on the comfort level and previous Desmos experience of the participants present that day.

Here's to a great conference and WIFI that works for our participants!
We'd love to see you in Rapid City!

Thursday, April 6, 2017


This past Wednesday, our high school launched what we're calling "Advisory Period".  In brief, advisories will act a little like a homeroom for our high school students.  Once a week, students will meet with their advisory group for 30  minutes and engage in some sort of task -- team building, character building, class meetings, etc.  Advisory teachers will also monitor student grades and provide an extra layer of support for students who might be struggling.

Advisory groups will be grouped with students in the same grade.  I have been assigned students from the incoming freshmen class.  Therefore, this spring I was assigned to help the counselors with the entire class of seniors.  The counselors had a list of newsworthy items they disseminated to the seniors.  They also showed the seniors a video of a TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth titled GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

As I watched the video, I found myself inspired by Angela's explanation of "Grit".  She says, "Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.  Grit is having stamina.  Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality."  I started to reflect on my goals and dreams and arrived at the realization that I haven't been very gritty as of late.

In 2015, I was nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  I worked hard to complete the challenging application and later found out that I was a state finalist for the award.  Ultimately, I did not win the award.  I received feedback on my application from the state and national level reviewers.  Much of my application was strong, but not strong enough.

Due to being a state finalist, I was automatically eligible to re-apply in 2017. [2016 was a K-6 level year.]   Much of my previous application can be used again, but improving it is where I've lacked grittiness.  I haven't had the motivation or perseverance to dig in and improve it.  The application is due on May 1st and the clock is ticking.

Thank you, Angela, for the inspirational talk.  Not only am I going to complete the award application, you have also re-kindled my motivation to write blog posts and be more reflective in my practice.  Sometimes I need a reminder to work hard and think critically about my teaching style, pedagogy, and decisions.  Angela's talk served as a great reminder.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Explore MTBoS 2017 - Week 3

Last year, I found the time to blog for all four weeks of the MTBoS blogging initiative.  This year, I'm happy to be able to find the time to blog once.  [My wife and I welcomed our fourth child last November; between our new baby and our other three kids being more and more involved in activities, time is a premium in my world.]

The prompt for the week is to write about a single blogpost or compile a bunch of various posts.  I'm going to cheat a bit and simply highlight one blog that is my top 5.

The Desmos Blog ( is typically updated each week and contains a wealth of strong information.  Some of my favorite posts found within the blog are the "Friday Fave" variety.  The team at Desmos highlights their favorite activity created in activity builder.

Also, this blog is where you can find information about the newest Desmos features.

I try to read the new blog postings the day they are posted, but I'm currently a few weeks behind.  [See: new baby.]

One last piece of info I'd like to share.  My colleague and I are presenting a session on Desmos and the Activity Builder features at South Dakota's annual math and science conference in February.

Here's the thing... Desmos Founder Eli Luberoff is a featured speaker at the conference and is presenting a number of sessions focused on Desmos as well.  Luckily, his presentations are not at the same time as ours (we want to attend his presentations!).  But we are feeling a little like Wayne and Garth in the following clip.

Here's to Jarrod and I not bombing our presentation with Eli in the house!